Jarrod Middleton lines up in his age group on the starting line for the Bangalow billycart derby.
Jarrod Middleton lines up in his age group on the starting line for the Bangalow billycart derby. Jay Cronan

Billycart racers' need for speed

THE thrills and spills came thick and fast on the main street of Bangalow on Sunday as the 2011 annual billycart derby swung into full gear.

The sun shone brilliantly and crowds poured into town for what has become one of the most popular events on the North Coast calendar.

While some of the bolder billycart builders had been spotted sneaking in illegal test runs down the main drag at night – some even game enough to test theirs during the busier daylight hours – most punters had their first taste of the track during the practice runs just prior to the heats at 9am.

And in several cases it showed.

Following the test runs, Father Anthony Lemon from the Holy Spirit Parish, was called in to bless the carts – and some obviously needed it more than others.

The motley collection had something for everyone – some were built for speed, some for comfort, some for safety, and some for no rational reason whatsoever.

One billycart (or kayak) looked far more suited to water sports and thrilled spectators with a stunning wipe out near the finishing line.

The juniors took to the track early to show their mettle, followed quickly by school teams, tag teams, seniors, mothers and celebrities.

The unofficial mayor of Bangalow, Mike Dowd, won the celebrity bout while Byron's official mayor Jan Barham came second last, though took great delight in knocking off former NSW MLC Ian Cohen, who shereplaced in the Upper House last month.

“That was my worst performance at the derby so far but I beat him, that's what really counted,” she laughed.

“There's nothing like going down that hill in a fragile machine (and) seeing all those smiling faces flashing past. It was a fantastic day for Bangalow and the whole shire.”

Alstonville Primary School took out the school challenge, picking up a lazy $1500 while Bangalow Primary School got a handy $500 for second.

Unfortunately organisers could not supply the winners' names last night.


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